National Leaders and DREAM Youth Urge Immediate Action on Bipartisan DREAM Act

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National Leaders and DREAM Youth Urge Immediate Action on Bipartisan DREAM Act

Speakers Applaud Majority Leader Reid’s Plan to Pass DREAM Act After Thanksgiving Recess

WASHINGTON - The day after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced he will bring the DREAM Act to the floor, as a stand-alone measure, during the lame-duck session, DREAM-eligible youth joined national leaders at the National Press Club to call on Congress to pass the DREAM Act before the end of 2010.  Speakers highlighted the importance of passing the DREAM Act and echoed the widespread support for the bill.

Archbishop Jose Gomez, Coadjutor Archbishop of Los Angeles, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration, urged Congress to stand up, saying, "There are times when Congress must act because it is the right and just thing to do.  This is one of those times.  With the passage of the DREAM Act, we can welcome a new generation of Americans who will one day become the leaders of our nation."

A new report by UCLA's North American Integration and Development Center, titled "No DREAMers Left Behind: The Economic Impacts of Dream Act Beneficiaries," shows that passing the DREAM Act would have a $3.6 trillion dollar impact on the economy, proving that not only is the DREAM Act a practical solution to one aspect of our broken immigration system, but it also good for our economy.

"These study results add an economic justification to the existing moral and practical arguments for the DREAM Act," said Dr. Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda, Associate Professor in the UCLA César E. Chávez Department of Chicana/o Studies and Founder/Director of the North American Integration and Development (NAID) Center.  "Passage of this legislation is sensible economic policy that represents a return on U.S. taxpayers' investment in public education - to the tune of $3.6 trillion in income alone."

"Our immigration laws tell these youth to give up and stop trying to fulfill their potential.  It is the kind of message that goes against every ideal that our great nation has worked so hard to realize," said Wade Henderson, President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.  "The upcoming vote is an important test to see who in Congress is willing to do what is right, for our nation and for the tens of thousands of young Americans whose futures depend on the DREAM Act.  America and these young scholars cannot afford to wait another day."

Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel underscored the urgency of the bill, "At this critical point in our history, our nation can ill afford to continue to discard the future contributions of the well-educated, home-grown scholars and patriots whose brainpower would be marshaled and put to beneficial use through the swift enactment and implementation of the DREAM Act."

"Today, I stand with these courageous young people, with faith leaders and those working for civil rights, to show that the Hispanic community will not stop its push for the ‘DREAM Act' and broader immigration reform," said Janet Murguía, President and CEO of NCLR.   "Americans have had enough with divisive politics. Seventy percent of likely voters and leaders in education, the military, business, and faith sectors support the legislation.  Both parties should use this opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to develop real solutions to our nation's problems."

DREAM-eligible youth told stories of their American dream as they called on their Senators to stand up.  "I urge Senators Kay Hagan and Richard Burr, on behalf of myself, and that of undocumented young people in the state of North Carolina, to vote in favor of the DREAM Act. It's the right thing to do, not only for undocumented students like myself, but also for the state of North Carolina and for this great nation," said Emilio Vicente from North Carolina.

Ramiro Luna from Texas said, "I have been fasting for the past 9 days for the opportunity to serve my country as a teacher.  I love this country, it has been my home for the past 20 years and I willing to do whatever it takes for a chance live a life free of limitations."

Lizeth Quiñones from Indiana concluded, "I have grown up here and I have dreams like you, please join my Senator, Senator Lugar, in giving me chance to achieve those dreams."

The DREAM Act, introduced by Sens. Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Richard Lugar (R-IN), as well as Reps. Howard Berman (D-CA), Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), has traditionally enjoyed bipartisan support.  Now, Congress has a chance to rise above the heated, partisan rhetoric of the campaign season and show the American people that it can work together to pass real immigration reform.  It is a common sense bill that enables high-achieving young people who came to this country as children a chance to legalize their status, if they enroll in an institution of higher learning or the U.S. military.  It is a win-win, both for the youth who would qualify and the country that would benefit from allowing these young leaders to realize their full potential.

For more on the DREAM Act, see: www.americasvoiceonline.org/dream.

For a copy of the report, "No DREAMers Left Behind: The Economic Impacts of Dream Act Beneficiaries," see: http://www.naid.ucla.edu/ 

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America's Voice -- Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform. The mission of America’s Voice is to realize the promise of workable and humane comprehensive immigration reform. Our goal is to build the public support and create the political momentum for reforms that will transform a dysfunctional immigration system that does not work into a regulatory system that does.

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